Fifa president Gianni Infantino has accused the West of “hypocrisy” in its reporting of Qatar’s human rights record.
In a news conference in Doha, Infantino defended Qatar and the tournament, which is due to kick off tomorrow evening.
“Today I have strong feelings. Today I feel Qatari, I feel Arab, I feel African, I feel gay, I feel disabled, I feel a migrant worker,” he said in his opening remarks, which lasted for nearly an hour.
“If Europe really care about the destiny of these people, they can create legal channels – like Qatar did – where a number of these workers can come to Europe to work. Give them some future, some hope,” he said.
“I have difficulties understanding the criticism. We have to invest in helping these people, in education and to give them a better future and more hope. We should all educate ourselves, many things are not perfect but reform and change takes time.
“This one-sided moral lesson is just hypocrisy. I wonder why no-one recognises the progress made here since 2016.
“It is not easy to take the critics of a decision that was made 12 years ago. Qatar is ready, it will be the best World Cup ever.
“I don’t have to defend Qatar, they can defend themselves. I defend football.”
In February 2021, the Guardian reported that 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died in Qatar since it won its World Cup bid.
Qatar World Cup officials also launched a stunning and abrupt U-turn yesterday, banning alcohol in its stadiums.
The tiny Gulf kingdom is set to outlaw the consumption of beer in grounds, owing to its strict Muslim laws which prohibit alcohol.
It had been promised before the tournament there would be areas where fans could drink, with hundreds of thousands expected to descend on the country for the tournament.